Just as there many different types of doctors who specialize in treating different kinds of diseases, there are also many different types of nurses — from ER nurses and cardiac nurses to orthopedic nurses. Thus, a number of differing degrees are offered depending on what kind of nurse one wishes to become.
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
The lowest level in the practice of nursing, one can typically become an Licensed Practical Nurse after around a year of training. LPN’s are usually generalized nurses, and their work vary depending on state or province as well as work environment. LPN’s could be responsible for providing basic bedside care for patients such as recording their vitals or giving them medication, aid in the feeding and care of infants, or start an IV drip.
- Registered Nurse (RN)
Registered Nurses receive more responsibility and are of higher authority than Licensed Practical Nurses. Unlike LPN’s, who typically act as general care-taker across all patients, RN’s tend to be specialized in a particular field of medicine. These specializations can include, but are not limited to, cardiovascular nursing, orthopedic nursing, mental health and addiction care, and palliative care. To become a RN, one of these three degrees must be obtained:
Diploma From an Approved Nursing Program
Though not an actual nursing degree, it is held at the same level of one due to a higher level of practical training. It is obtained upon the successful completion of an accredited, hospital-based nursing program. The program typically takes around 2-3 years to complete.
- Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ASN Degree)
Like most associate’s degrees, an associate’s in nursing usually takes about 2 years to complete. It is usually offered as a nursing program at a community college, or at some nursing schools. Some of the topics of study include chemistry, anatomy & physiology, microbiology, mathematics, nutrition, and psychology. Often times, a supervised clinical experience is required in order to obtain the degree.
Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN Degree)
Similar to most bachelor’s degrees, a bachelor’s in nursing can be obtained after around 4-years of study. It provides a more thorough understanding and knowledge in topics that are similar to those studied for an associate’s degree. With a BSN, one is eligible to work for private and public medical and surgical hospitals, home health-care services, physicians’ offices, and nursing facilities.
- Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)
For those who wish to take on a more leadership role in nursing — in areas such as management, administration, or education — it would be a good idea to obtain a masters of science in nursing. It is also a step into getting a doctorate in nursing. The courses of the degree would usually be focused on more advanced and deeper practices of most nursing specialties.
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
A rigorous program that could typically take three years to complete, those who have a doctor of nursing practice go on to become independent practitioners or into fields such as anesthesiology. Coursework for the program is dependent on school and specialization, however the topics of study usually surrounds the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
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